Glossary of Terms


The creation of an inclusive environment begins with collaborative conversations in which all members of the campus community not only participate, but also share an understanding of the terms most often used in the articulation of goals and strategies. With this in mind, below is a list of definitions that aim to put all Titans “on the same page,” further ensuring the type of collegial discourse necessary to achieve our highest goals.

University of California, Berkeley. Pathway to Excellence: University of California, Berkeley Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 2009.


Campus climate

Campus climate refers to the current attitudes, behaviors, standards and practices of employees and students of an institution. It’s a way to determine how closely our values are aligned with how we treat and work with one another.

Assessing how members of our community experience Cal State Fullerton’s social and academic climate will help us develop programs and policies that will increase inclusivity in areas that are shown to be problematic and enhance and replicate programs and policies that are successfully meeting the needs of the community.

Research demonstrates that the personal and professional development of employees is impacted by campus climate. Not only that, but faculty and staff members who judge their campus climate more positively are more likely to feel personally supported. This, in turn, creates a welcoming environment for our students, whose best interest are central to every decision we make.


Cultural competency

Cultural competency is a set of academic and interpersonal skills that allow individuals to increase their understanding, sensitivity, appreciation, and responsiveness to cultural differences and the interactions resulting from them. The particulars of acquiring cultural competency vary among different groups, and they involve an ongoing relational process tending to inclusion and trust-building.

“Cultural competence refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Cultural competence comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) Cross-cultural skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competence is a developmental process that evolves over an extended period” (Martin and Vaughn, “Cultural Competence”).



Disability is a physical, mental, or cognitive impairment or condition that qualifies under federal and state disability nondiscrimination laws for special accommodations to ensure programmatic and physical access.



Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term “diversity” is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.


Engaged public scholarship

Engaged public scholarship encompasses public engagement and scholarship. Public engagement is the application of institutional resources to solve challenges facing communities through collaboration with these communities. Scholarship is teaching, discovery, integration, application, and engagement that has clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, and reflective critique that is rigorous and peer-reviewed.

More concretely, engaged public scholarship “expresses a rationale for the implementation of a set of educational practices, including foundational coursework, faculty-supervised applied fieldwork, [reflective critique,] and research, “ thereby integrating scholarship and service (Rosa and Cohen, “A Laboratory for Public Scholarship”).



Equity is the guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all students, faculty, and staff, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.



Excellence is the expectation and standard that whatever the University does in research, teaching, and public service is of the highest quality, is on the cutting edge, is methodologically rigorous, nourishes critical and creative thinking, and is responsive to all campus constituencies. Excellence focuses on intellectual, social, and organizational development, as well as on the purposeful utilization of resources to enhance the University’s mission.



Gender is a socially constructed system of classification that ascribes qualities of masculinity and femininity to people. Gender characteristics can change over time and are different between cultures. Words that refer to gender include: man, woman, transgender, masculine, feminine, and gender queer. “Gender” also refers to one’s sense of self as masculine or feminine, regardless of external genitalia. Gender is often conflated with sex; however, this is inaccurate, because “sex” refers to bodies and “gender” refers to personality characteristics.


Historically underrepresented

“Historically underrepresented” is a limited term that refers to groups who have been denied access and/or suffered past institutional discrimination in the United States and, according to the Census and other federal measuring tools, includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics or Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans. This is revealed by an imbalance in the representation of different groups in common pursuits such as education, jobs, housing, etc., resulting in marginalization for some groups and individuals and not for others, relative to the number of individuals who are members of the population involved.

Other groups in the United States have been marginalized and are currently underrepresented. These groups may include but are not limited to other ethnicities, adult learners, veterans, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, different religious groups, and different economic backgrounds.



Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. Inclusion integrates diversity and embeds it into the core academic mission and institutional functioning. It is the “active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity — in people, in the curriculum, in the co-curriculum, and in (intellectual, social, cultural, and geographical) communities with which individuals might connect — in ways that increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.” (Clayton-Pedersen, O’Neil, and Musil: 2007)

As defined by the 2008 Leadership Development Program Inclusiveness Project Team, [inclusion] is a respectful way of creating value from the differences of all members of our community, in order to leverage talent and foster both individual and organizational excellence.



Multiculturalism is an acknowledgment that, as people, we are culturally diverse and multifaceted, and a process through which the sharing and transforming of cultural experiences allow us to re-articulate and redefine new spaces, possibilities, and positions for ourselves and others.

Today, there are many different — and sometimes conflicting — ideas around the highly contested term of “multiculturalism.” While more mainstream discourses around diversity and multiculturalism have become abundant, such definitions — particularly when ahistorical and asocial in their grounding — tend to miss parts of the picture, and may thus unproductively disguise, and even reproduce (if unintentionally), forms of injustice and oppression still prevalent in our society.

Counter to this — and calling for a paradigm shift — the definition above frames multiculturalism as a perspective and practice.


Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation is the deep-seated direction of one’s sexual (erotic) attraction toward the same gender, opposite gender, or other genders. It is on a continuum and not a set of absolute categories. Sometimes it is referred to as “affection orientation.”



Underserved populations are ones that are disadvantaged in relation to other groups because of structural/societal obstacles and disparities. At CSUF, “underserved” applies to accessibility to education.